Alberta Pension fund invests in Coastal GasLink pipeline, the latest risky fossil fuel investment

Carbon Tracker, the group which originated the term “stranded assets, published two new reports about the financial risks of fossil fuel investment in June:  It’s Closing Time: The Huge Bill to Abandon Oilfields Comes Early  and Decline and Fall: The Size & Vulnerability of the Fossil Fuel System on June 4 .  Banking giant Goldman Sachs also released a new report, Carbonomics: The Future of Energy in the age of climate change , which sees a fundamental shift from fossils to renewable energy investments.

Yet even as the drumbeat of fossil fuel decline continues, the public sector pension funds of Alberta and South Korea purchased a majority ownership stake in the Coastal GasLink pipeline from TC Energy on May 25,  using  the  retirement savings of millions of individuals.  “Alberta and South Korea’s pensions just bought the Coastal GasLink pipeline: 8 things you need to know” in The Narwhal (June 10) analyses the situation and cites a report from Progress Alberta :  Alberta’s Failed Oil and Gas Bailout , with this subtitle provided: “How AIMCO invested more than a billion dollars of pensioners and Albertans money into risky oil and gas companies with more than $3 billion in environmental liabilities and how the people running those companies got rich through huge salaries, share buybacks, dividends and conservative political connections.” Besides exposing the political shadows and environmental liabilities of many AimCo energy investments, the report makes recommendations, including for a public review of the investment performance and governance of Aimco; to divest from risky fossil fuel investments; to allow pension plans whose funds are being managed by AIMCo to appoint representatives to its board ; and to allow pension funds the freedom to leave AIMCo.

The recommended reforms are necessary because of the changes made by the Kenney government in November 2019,  described by WCR here and by Alberta unions in:  Union leaders tell UCP: ‘The money saved by Albertans for retirement belongs to them, not to you!’    Alberta’s Failed Oil and Gas Bailout   report urges: “The mismanagement of pensions and the Heritage Fund today offers opportunities for unions, political parties, civil society groups and organizers to engage and activate people who otherwise might never get involved in political collective action. People’s retirements and Alberta’s savings fund from its fossil fuel wealth are at stake.”

Fossil fuel and LNG subsidies in B.C., and an alternate viewpoint on the issue

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) maintains an ongoing initiative, the Global Subsidies Initiative , to research fossil fuel subsidies worldwide.  Their most recent publication relating to Canada is  Locked In and Losing Out: British Columbia’s fossil fuel subsidies. The authors calculate that BC’s fossil fuel subsidies reached  $830 million Cdn.  in 2017–2018, with no end in sight. Despite B.C.’s clean energy image, the report documents the significant new support granted by the current B.C. government to encourage the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.  Locked In and Losing Out calls for the provincial government to create a plan to phase-out its own subsidies, and coordinate with the federal government in its current  G20 Peer Review of fossil fuel subsidies, launched in 2019 and administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada.   In August 2019, the IISD also released its Submission to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Consultation on Non-Tax Fossil Fuel Subsidies calling for Canada to re-affirm its long-standing  G7 commitment to reform fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and provide a detailed action plan to achieve the goal.  

new labor forumAn alternate view

Sean Sweeney of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy takes an alternate view on fossil fuel subsidies in “Weaponizing the numbers: The Hidden Agenda Behind Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Reform” appearing in the January 2020 issue of  New Labor Forum. As might be expected, Sweeney challenges the findings and assumptions of the International Monetary Fund (for example, in a 2019 working paper by David Coady ). He also takes issue with some progressive analysis – notably, he cites  Fossil Fuel to Clean Energy Subsidy Swaps: How to Pay for an Energy Revolution (2019) and Zombie Energy: Climate benefits of ending subsidies to fossil fuel production (2017)  – both published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).  After a brief discussion of the main concepts, Sweeney concludes:

“For activists in the North, making fossil-fuel subsidies a key political target is a mistake. It buys into the IMF’s obsession with “getting energy prices right” which targets state ownership and regulation of prices. Such an approach may lead to a more judicious use of energy, but it would not address the mammoth challenges involved in transitioning away from fossil fuels, controlling and reducing unnecessary economic activity, or reducing emissions is expeditiously as possible.

The problem is fossil fuel dependency, not underpriced energy. Raising the price without alternative forms of low-carbon energy available for all will not produce the kind of emissions reductions the world needs. This does not mean that progressive unions and the left should support subsidies for fossil fuels—especially when the beneficiaries are large for-profit industrial users or billionaire Lamborghini owners cruising the strips in Riyadh or Shanghai. But there is a need to be aware of what the IMF and the subsidy reform organizations are proposing, and what these proposals might mean for workers and ordinary people, especially in the Global South.”

 

 

 

Canadian doctors call for moratorium on fracking for gas

On January 29, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) released a report which documents the serious health and environmental dangers associated with fracked natural gas, calling for the phase-out of existing fracking operations and a moratorium on any new fracking projects. CAPE also calls for Just Transition plans to help workers and the communities which would be affected.  Canada is the world’s fourth largest producer of natural gas, and in 2018, 71% of that was “fracked gas”, mostly produced in northeastern British Columbia.  The Narwhal offers a good  (though now dated) explainer about fracking in Canada, and offers several in-depth articles, including “Potential health impacts of fracking in B.C. worry Dawson Creek physicians” (April 2019). The Narwhal has also published recent articles by Ben Parfitt of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives B.C., who has also written extensively about fracking and LNG in B.C. Most recently, Peace River Frack-up  was released by CCPA-BC in January,  calling for an immediate ban on fracking activity for operations  close to BC Hydro’s two existing Peace River dams and the Site C dam, because of the risk of dam failure from fracking-caused earthquakes.

The CAPE report, Fractures in the Bridge: Unconventional (Fracked) Natural Gas, Climate Change and Human Health  documents the environmental and climate change impacts of fracking, with an over-riding concern about the significant health dangers, especially for communities and workers. The report notes: “Data from the US show that the risk of death among workers in this sector is two-and-a half-times higher than the risk for workers in construction and seven times higher than the risk for industrial workers as a whole.”  “America’s Radioactive Secret” is a troubling article which appeared in Rolling Stone on January 21, summarizing a journalistic investigation of the  unregulated trucking of fracking waste: “Oil-and-gas wells produce nearly a trillion gallons of toxic waste a year. An investigation shows how it could be making workers sick and contaminating communities across America.”

Fractures in the Bridge provides a Canadian perspective on the overwhelming evidence from established studies which have reported “negative health outcomes including adverse birth outcomes, birth defects including congenital heart defects and neural tube defects, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, dermal effects, gastrointestinal symptoms, neurological effects, psychological impacts and respiratory illnesses.” Fractures in the Bridge  also provides a very complete bibliography as well as an appendix showing how fracking is regulated in each province in Canada.

An important related source of information, updated in 2019, is the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction) , published by the Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).

Federal government announces $275 Million subsidy to LNG Canada in B.C.

Despite the ongoing contentious development of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) in British Columbia and commitments to end fossil fuel subsidies, on June 24 federal Finance Minister Morneau  announced that the federal government will invest $275 million into LNG Canada’s $40 billion liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat: $220 million to be spent on energy-efficient gas turbines for the project, and  $55 million spent on replacing the Haisla Bridge in Kitimat. The announcement is summarized by the CBC in “Feds announce $275M ‘largest private sector investment in Canadian history’ — Kitimat, B.C.’s LNG project”

The Narwhal maintains an ongoing archive of excellent articles which chronicle the controversy over fracking and LNG in B.C,  here .  Two recent “must read” articles from: “6 Awkward Realities behind B.C.’s big LNG Giveaway”  (April 6)  which discusses the B.C. government’s move to bundle tax exemptions and cheap electricity rates into a $5.35 billion  incentive package for  LNG Canada in March 2019, and “B.C. government quietly posts response to expert fracking report” (June 28) which discusses the government’s  response to the report of its own  independent Scientific Review of Hydraulic Fracturing in British Columbia, released in February 2019. As noted in the Narwhal article, the panel was mandated to assess the potential impacts of fracking on water quantity and quality; on seismic activity, and on  fugitive emissions – but not on public health, despite concerns raised and the known scientific evidence.  According to the government news release,  a working group has been established to address the  97 recommendations made by the expert panel.

Some recent relevant reading about LNG and the fracking associated with its production: 

RE the Emissions of LNG: The New Gas Boom , published  on July 1 by the Global Energy Monitor, an international non-governmental organization that catalogues fossil-fuel infrastructure. The report states that a growing global supply of natural gas is on a “collision course” with the Paris Agreement, and that the increase in natural gas is driven largely by the North American fracking boom- with 39% of new development  occurring in the U.S., 35% in Canada.  The GEM report is discussed from a Canadian viewpoint in  “Global boom in natural gas is undermining climate change action: reportNational Observer (July 2)  and  “’Clean’ natural gas is actually the new coal, report says: Don Pittis” at CBC  .  Previous to the Global Energy Monitor report, Marc Lee had weighed in on the high GHG emissions of fracked natural gas in  “ LNG’s Big Lie”, an article in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Policy Note ( Lee’s arguments were also published in The Georgia Straight,  (June 17) and an OpEd in The Globe and Mail . )

compendium re frackingIn the U.S.   in June 19, The sixth edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking  was published by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York. Written by scientists, doctors and journalists, it is an analysis of original research studies published from 2016-2018 on the health impacts of fracking . One of the most impactful statements from the press release: “The notion that natural gas can serve as an intermediate “bridge fuel” between coal and renewable energy is fallacious and now disproven by new scientific evidence showing that methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than formerly appreciated and escapes in larger amounts from all parts of the extraction and distribution process than previously presumed, including from inactive, long-abandoned wells. Grossly underestimating methane emissions threatens to undermine the efficacy of efforts to combat climate change.” A summary press release is here ,  or see the Common Dreams article “’We Need to Ban Fracking’: New Analysis of 1,500 Scientific Studies Details Threat to Health and Climate”   (June 19).

International Energy Agency report, LNG Market Trends and their Implications   (June 20) provides statistical analysis of the changing Asian markets for LNG.

B.C. LNG project approved despite emissions, fracking

lngcanadakitimat1_160204Described as one of the largest infrastructure projects ever in Canada, a $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia was approved on October 1, and the five investors – Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi Corp., Malaysian-owned Petronas, PetroChina Co. and Korean Gas Corp. –  have stated that construction on the pipeline and a processing plant will begin immediately. According to the CBC report , the project is expected to employ as many as 10,000 people in its construction and up to 950 in full-time jobs. The processing plant will be located in Kitimat, which is within the traditional territory of the Haisla First Nation, and which is in favour of the project, as are the elected councils of 25 First Nations communities along the pipeline route.  The B.C. Federation of Labour also supports the project, as stated in its press release: “The Federation and a number of other unions have been part of the LNG process since 2013….As a part of the former Premier’s LNG Working Group, and the new government’s Workforce Development Advisory Group with First Nations and LNG Canada, labour pushed for many of the work force provisions that are reflected in today’s final investment decision”.

That leaves environmental activists in opposition. Although B.C.’s Premier announced the project with as “B.C.’s new LNG Framework to deliver record investment, world’s cleanest LNG facility”  , the project’s emissions will represent more than one-quarter of B.C.’s legislated targets for carbon pollution in 2050.  Both the Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada   note how difficult it will be to reach B.C.’s targets for clean growth (currently under a consultation process), and Pembina warns of the dangers of fracking and of methane emissions associated with natural gas.  Reflecting years of opposition, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives wrote   “LNG is incompatible with B.C.’s climate obligations” (July 11). As far back as 2015, CCPA B.C. published  A Clear Look at B.C. LNG: Energy Security, Environmental Implications, and Economic Potential ,  by David Hughes.   An October 2  Maclean’s published an Opinion  piece, “Will LNG Canada increase greenhouse-gas emissions? It’s complicated.”  which considers (and rejects) the idea that B.C. LNG  might have a global benefit if it displaces coal use in China .

And finally, the issue of fossil fuel subsidies, which Canada and other G20 countries have promised to phase out.  In  “LNG Canada project called a ‘tax giveaway’ as B.C. approves massive subsidies” in The Narwhal,  author Sarah Cox reports that a senior B.C. government official “pegged the province’s total financial incentives for the project at $5.35 billion”, including break on the carbon tax, cheaper electricity rates, a provincial sales tax exemption during the project’s five-year construction period, and a natural gas tax credit.

The B.C. Green party, which has to date supported the current minority NDP government through a Confidence and Supply Agreement , maintains an online petition called  LNG is not worth it  . Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver issued this statement on October 1, expressing disappointment and stating:

“The government does not have our votes to implement this regime…..Despite our profound disappointment on this issue, we have been working closely in good faith with the government to develop a Clean Growth Strategy to aggressively reduce emissions and electrify our economy. The B.C. NDP campaigned to implement a plan to meet our targets and reaffirmed that promise in our Confidence and Supply Agreement. We will hold them to account on this. We will have more to say once that plan becomes public later this year.”

Updates: British Columbia’s New Climate Bureaucrat and LNG

Activists in B.C. are dismayed by the March 22 appointment of the person who will lead B.C.’s upcoming Climate Leadership Plan: see  “Fazil Mihlar, former Fraser Institute director, tapped as B.C.’s Deputy Climate Minister”  in the National Observer. Despite widespread public opposition – especially from the local group My Sea to Sky –  the Woodfibre LNG project was awarded federal approval, with conditions, on March 18 .  And in what is seen as a serious test of Canada’s climate commitment ,  Federal Minister McKenna has delayed the decision on the Pacific Northwest LNG project ; see “ Tensions tighten as Ottawa Prepares Decision on Pacific Northwest LNG”   in the Globe and Mail  or “Decision time for Trudeau: Climate Commitments or LNG legacy” in the  National Observer.  See also the Policy Note from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, “B.C. government spin cycle on LNG”  (March 15),   summarizing the results of freedom of information requests regarding natural gas supplies, environmental impacts, and economic benefits of developing LNG.     On a more positive note, Premier Clark announced funding of $11.9 million from the Province’s Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund for three programs aimed at promoting clean-energy vehicles, clean air and clean water.   Details of the Clean Energy Vehicle Program are here  .

Recognition of First Nations’ Leadership to preserve the Environment

The Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest international contest for grassroots environmental activism, was announced in April 2015. The North American winner was Marilyn Baptiste , an elected councillor and former chief of the 400-member Xeni Gwet’in First Nations, near Williams Lake, British Columbia. The award recognizes her leadership  in the fight against the Prosperity Mine which would have destroyed Fish Lake, a source of spiritual identity and livelihood for First Nations. Baptiste presented and prepared comprehensive environmental, cultural and economic data at federal environmental hearings. She also initiated a one-woman blockade in 2011 that prevented construction crews from reaching the proposed mine site.   Other winners are profiled at the Goldman Prize website.

The list to recognize all the efforts of Canada’s First Nations to protect our environment would be almost endless. Most recently, on May 14, the Lax Kw’alaams Nation rejected an offer of over $1-billion from Petronas LNG, in exchange for their consent to construction of an LNG export terminal on Lelu Island in the Great Bear Sea.   See the DeSmog blog or the WWF reactions . Meanwhile, the government of B.C. signed an agreement with Petronas LNG which will promote such ventures. Read the Globe and Mail article, “ B.C. pushing ahead with LNG proposal despite Objections from First Nations” (May 20).

B.C. LNG Setor: New Legislation and a New Report

In the week of October 20, British Columbia introduced the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act and the Liquefied Natural Gas Income Tax Act. The former requires liquefied natural gas plants to purchase carbon offsets and punishes those who fail to limit their carbon emissions to 0.16 tonnes per tonne of LNG – the strictest standards in the world, according to B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak.

However, Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada criticized the Act for focussing exclusively on port facilities, at the end of the supply chain. Matt Horne of the Pembina Institute asserted that 70% of the industry’s emissions would be released before reaching the ports. See “B.C.’s New LNG Emissions Regulations A Good Start, But Not Enough” from Desmog Canada at: http://www.desmog.ca/2014/10/22/bc-new-lng-emissions-regulations-good-start-but-not-enough, and Pembina’s comments at: http://www.pembina.org/media-release/pembina-reacts-to-tabling-of-bc-lng-carbon-pollution-legislation.

The new tax legislation imposes a 3.5% rate on operating income, half the amount B.C. had initially planned. Read the government press release at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/10/bc-to-have-worlds-cleanest-lng-facilities.html, and for details on the Act, see the government’s website at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=75BD4BF2B6B5493FB8A36DB05EBA764D. Jack Mintz, from the University of Calgary, states: “the B.C. shale gas royalty is one of the most distortionary systems developed in industrialized countries”.

For his financial and policy critique, see “Jack M. Mintz: Why B.C.’s LNG tax policy sets a bad precedent” in the Financial Post at: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/10/22/jack-m-mintz-why-b-c-s-lng-tax-policy-helps-neither-the-province-nor-the-industry/. For a broader view, see Marc Lee’s reaction in “A B.C. Framework for LNG, part 2: The LNG income tax” at Rabble.ca at: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/policynote/2014/10/bc-framework-lng-part-2-lng-income-tax.

And the last word: Pembina will release a new report on October 27th, LNG and Climate Change: The Global Context.

Nova Scotia Bans Onshore Fracking; Explores Energy Options

Following a two-year moratorium and the release of the report of a 10-person expert panel chaired by Cape Breton University president David Wheeler, Nova Scotia announced its decision to prohibit onshore high-volume fracking on September 3rd. The ban does not include less risky onshore extraction methods or offshore high-volume fracking.

Nova Scotia’s offshore oil and gas reserves are significantly larger and have already attracted $2 billion in investments and proposals to build three LNG plants. The South Canoe wind project, currently under construction, and a tidal turbine to be built next year will further buttress the province’s energy resources.

Consultations with the public and Mi’kmaq communities revealed a strong mistrust of fracking. See the website of the Hydraulic Fracturing Review at: http://www.cbu.ca/hfstudy, with links to submissions, studies and press coverage. See also “High-volume fracking to be banned in Nova Scotia” available at the CBC at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/high-volume-fracking-to-be-banned-in-nova-scotia-1.2754439.

On the heels of the announcement, a study released by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that some fracking workers are exposed to unsafe volumes of benzene when inspecting storage tanks. “Evaluation of Some Potential Chemical Exposure Risks During Flowback Operations in Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction: Preliminary Results” is available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/.VBDknKOuRas#.VBySDmOln4U, summarized in the Los Angeles Times at: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fracking-benzene-worker-health-20140910-story.html#page=1.

BC Budget Announces Tax on LNG, Silent on Carbon Price

On February 18th, British Columbia tabled a provincial budget that touts its Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) development plans and offers some highly anticipated clarification on the sector’s tax structure.

Proposed taxation will include a 7% levy on the liquefaction process (the most emissions-intensive part of the process), which will take effect after capital costs are recovered. Until then, companies will pay only 1.5%. While companies argue the tax may render B.C. LNG uncompetitive, Sustainable Prosperity argues that the rate will likely be lower in practice. Adding to the confusion over just how much revenue will accrue to the province is uncertainty about future LNG prices, and whether the existing carbon tax will apply.

The budget did not address the expected impacts on B.C.’s emissions reductions wellhead-to-waterline-022014targets. According to Sustainable Prosperity, five proposed LNG plants will emit 73 megatons of carbon alone, along with emissions from fracking, transportation, combustion, and any additional plants. In a new report, the Pembina Institute argues that the jobs and revenue figures published by the government would require five to seven LNG terminals, which it claims could put B.C. LNG emissions on par with oil sands emissions by 2020.

While the budget rolls back public spending overall, it also includes an expansion of the provincial Carbon Neutral Capital Program (CNCP) which will draw the health and post-secondary education sectors into an existing scheme to establish a carbon-neutral school system. CNCP collects $25 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions from participating sectors, which is then invested in low-carbon capital upgrades.

See the B.C. Budget and Fiscal Plan, along with highlights and backgrounders, at: http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2014/default.htm. For reaction, see “Carbon regime missing in action in BC’s new LNG tax regime” from Sustainable Prosperity at: http://www.sustainableprosperity.ca/blogpost87; “B.C. Budget 2014: About that LNG Prosperity Fund” Blog from Marc Lee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/policynote/2014/02/bc-budget-2014-about-lng-prosperity-fund. Also see Wellhead to Waterline: Opportunities to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions from B.C.’s Proposed LNG Industry from the Pembina Institute at: http://www.pembina.org/pub/2524.

Nova Scotia Approves LNG Facility at Goldboro, with 40 Conditions

On March 21st, the Nova Scotia Minister of Environment gave his approval for an LNG plant and terminal which the company predicts will create up to 3,500 jobs during its construction and employ 200 full-time workers in the operational phase. The Minister followed the conclusions of a 3-person environmental panel which acknowledged “residual effects” on the environment, including increased greenhouse gas emissions, and damage to local fisheries, but concluded that the economic benefits outweighed these considerations. The project still needs approval by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, and a final decision by the company, Pieridae Energy Canada. See the government press release and all documents relating to the project at: http://www.novascotia.ca/nse/ea/goldboro-lng.asp. See a Globe and Mail press report at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/nova-scotia-government-gives-conditional-okay-for-lng-plant/article17612971/.

LNG Production Powered by Renewables would Create More Jobs, Less Pollution, without Sacrificing Competitiveness

lock in jobsOn January 15, CleanEnergy Canada released the latest in its reports regarding the production of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in British Columbia. Lock in Jobs, Not Pollution urges the government of British Columbia to use renewable electricity to power the LNG facilities. The report explains that the heart of LNG facilities are their compressors, which can be powered by the traditional technology of gas turbine drives (also called direct drives or D-drives), or by the more innovative electric motor drives (E-drives), now in use in Norway. The report contends that, in comparison to the use of fossil fuels, the use of renewable energy to power e-drives would “increase regional permanent employment by 45 percent, decrease carbon pollution by 33 percent, reduce smog, and build the foundations of a renewable energy economy in Northwestern British Columbia.” The report contains detailed appendices of the methodology by which job projections and estimates of cost and competitiveness were calculated.

The report quotes numerous government statements that claim that the LNG initiatives will be the “cleanest in the world”; notably, Premier Clark stated at the World Economic Forum in China in 2012, “We want our LNG plants to be principally fuelled by renewables.” Yet in a radio interview in response to the report’s release, the B.C. Minister of Energy stated, “If we were to introduce a brand new condition, at this stage of our discussions with these LNG proponents, it would first of all be foolhardy, it would be unprofessional.” Two government-industry agreements for LNG development were announced in January, one for Kitimat and one for Prince Rupert.

For a broader discussion of the many potential sources of carbon emissions from LNG production (including the extraction of shale oil gas and transportation to the LNG processing facilities), see a recent OpEd by Alison Bailie. According to Pembina Institute estimates, if LNG development is to achieve the revenue claims made by the B.C. government, B.C.’s LNG sector would produce three-quarters as much carbon pollution as the oil sands, by 2020. The author contends that the government could reduce the carbon footprint by limiting the growth of the LNG sector, prioritizing low-carbon job creation, and setting high standards for emissions reductions technology for any projects that are allowed to proceed.

LINKS:

Lock in Jobs, Not Pollution is at CleanEnergy Canada at: http://cleanenergycanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Lock-in-Jobs-Not-Pollution.pdf, with links to previous CleanEnergy Canada reports about LNG at: http://cleanenergycanada.org/category/news-coverage/

Carbon Footprint of B.C. LNG Boom Could Rival Alberta’s Oilsands, OpEd by Alison Bailie, from Pembina Institute, originally posted at The Tyee, (Jan. 13), at: http://www.pembina.org/op-ed/2515

B.C. Government press releases re industry agreements for LNG facilities are at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/01/major-lng-contract-awarded.html (Jan. 13, Kitimat) and http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/01/second-lng-agreement-reached-for-grassy-point-with-woodside.html (Jan. 16, Grassy Narrows, Prince Rupert).

Radio interview with Energy Minister Bennett in response to the CleanEnergy report is at: http://www.cknw.com/2014/01/16/energy-minister-says-no-to-electricity-powered-lng-plants/, with response from CleanEnergy Canada at: http://cleanenergycanada.org/2014/01/16/media-statement-re-minister-bennett-remarks-powering-lng-plants/

British Columbia Liquified Natural Gas Strategy: Workforce Estimates Released, but Question Keep Coming

A report released on July 23 by the government of British Columbia estimates that 60,000 workers will be needed to build five LNG plants and pipelines throughout 2016 and 2017, with a further 75,000 permanent skilled workers needed once the projects are operational. The B.C. Natural Gas Workforce Strategy and Action Plan is based on information from the LNG Employment Impact Review, conducted for the government by consultants Grant Thornton. However, on August 1, the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria sent a 63-page letter to the federal and provincial Ministers of the Environment, stating, “On behalf of Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research, we hereby request that you direct that a Strategic Economic and Environmental Assessment be conducted of proposed massive new LNG developments in British Columbia.” The economic questions from the Environmental Law Centre do not specifically relate to workforce impact, but rather to the costs to the taxpayer and the consumer, especially in light of the volatility of the high Asian price for natural gas. The letter also raises the issues of the GHG emissions associated with LNG production, along with other environmental concerns.

LINKS

LNG Workforce Strategy and Action Plan full report is at: http://www.rtobc.com/Assets/RTO+Assets/About+RTO/BC+NG+Strategy+2013JUL.pdf (the government press release is available at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2013/07/action-plan-released-for-bcs-lng-sector.html).

Grant Thornton Employment Impact Review is at:

Letter from the Environmental Law Centre, requesting a Strategic Economic and Environmental Assessment of LNG developments in B.C. is available at: http://www.elc.uvic.ca/documents/2013Aug1-Aglukkaq-Polak-Letter-ELC2013-02-01.pdf

Positions of B.C. Political Parties on Climate Change Issues and Green Jobs

British Columbia holds its provincial election on May 14th.  The Pembina Institute has released a comparison of the positions of the political parties on four election issues related to climate change: liquefied natural gas (LNG), oil pipelines, the carbon tax and green jobs. They find that the Green Party is the only one who would take the province forward on all four issues, and goes the furthest in proposals for green job creation – with enhanced venture capital funding programs for the clean tech sector, as well as encouragement of energy efficiency and renewable energy.  Only the Conservatives have no proposals re green job creation.   The Conservatives, Liberals and NDP are all in support of significant LNG expansion, yet the Pembina authors state that “any necessary next steps in lowering emissions will be overwhelmed by the emissions from extracting, processing and liquefying natural gas if LNG development is allowed to significantly expand in B.C.”

LINKS

Climate change and the 2013 British Columbia election by Matt Horne, Josha MacNab & Kevin Sauvé is available at http://www.pembina.org/media-release/2449 .

“B.C.’s political climate is shifting: Why talk of ‘jobs vs. environment’ no longer holds water” by Eric Doherty (May 10) at Rabble.ca at http://rabble.ca/news/2013/05/bcs-political-climate-shifting-why-talk-jobs-vs-environment-no-longer-holds-water

Party Platforms:  Green Party: Jobs in a New Economy is at http://www.greenparty.bc.ca/jobs_in_new_economy ; NDP platform is at http://www.bcndp.ca/plan  ; Liberals’ at http://www.bcliberals.com/news/in-the-news/ourPlan ; Conservatives’ at http://www.bcconservative.ca/ .

The Tyee Election Hook (dedicated to election coverage)  is at http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/

For results:  go to CBC B.C. Election 2013 website at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/bcvotes2013/

Forecasts of B.C. LNG Revenues are Disputed as “Cloudy”

A week after Premier Clark released optimistic projections for the province’s liquefied natural gas strategy in February, the Energy ministry released two independent consultant’s reports on the issue. In an article in The Tyee, Geoff Dembicki unravels the calculations behind the government’s projected revenues, the consultants’ numbers, and the current industry opinion. He concludes that the projections are built on unrealistic assumptions, and “industry opinion also suggests B.C. is unlikely to realize tax revenues of $260 billion, or even the lower Liberal estimate of $130 billion.” Read “Clark’s Gas Export Optimism Floats on Cloudy Numbers” by Geoff Dembicki in The Tyee (April 10, 2013) at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/04/10/LNG-Revenues-Cloudy/.  

The two consultant’s reports are athttp://www.llbc.leg.bc.ca/public/pubdocs/bcdocs2013/528495/grant%20thornton%20-%20lng%20revenue.pdf andhttp://www.empr.gov.bc.ca/OG/Documents/Ernst%20and%20Young%20-%20LNG%20Revenue.pdf.

Another article by Dembicki, on April 4, provides more background and criticism of the LNG strategy. By changing the rules to allow natural gas to power the energy-intensive processing stages of LNG, the government has undercut its own “clean energy” boast and reduced the potential job benefits for First Nations clean energy enterprises. Read “Changes to LNG Plan Pull Plug on Jobs Say First Nations” in The Tyee (April 4, 2013) at: http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/04/04/Changes-to-LNG-Plan/, and a supporting 2012 blog by Matt Horne of the Pembina Institute at: http://www.pembina.org/blog/611.

Liquified Natural Gas: B.C. Announces Royalty Credits and Grants to First Nations to Stimulate the Industry

The Government of British Columbia released a strategy for LNG development in February 2012, and has now released a one year update. The government now predicts that “LNG development is expected to create on average 39,000 new full time jobs during a nine-year construction period. There could be as many as 75,000 new, annual full-time jobs once all LNG plants are in full operation.”

On February 25 at a conference called Fuelling the Future: Global opportunities for LNG in BC, Premier Christy Clark announced that British Columbia will provide up to $120 million in royalty credits to the industry in 2013, through the existing Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program (IRCP). The program, established in 2004, allows resource companies to recover up to 50 % of the cost of roads and pipelines through credits that reduce royalties payable to government.

At the same conference, the Premier announced that the government will provide $32 million to the First Nations Limited Partnership (comprised of 15 northern First Nations) to facilitate their non-equity investment in the proposed Pacific Trails Pipeline project , a 463-kilometre pipeline planned to run from Summit Lake, north of Prince George, to the proposed Kitimat LNG facility on the coast.

LINKS

British Columbia’s Liquified Natural Gas Strategy: One Year Update is at:http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/files/2013/02/LNGreport_update2013_web.pdf, with job forecasts summarized in a news release at:http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/files/2013/02/News-Release-Major-progress-job-creation-evident-in-LNG-update.pdf

Liquified Natural Gas: A Strategy for British Columbia’s Newest Industry, published in Feb. 2012, is at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/ener/popt/down/liquefied_natural_gas_strategy.pdf

See the new B.C. government website at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/ for all LNG developments.